Kassian tries to direct a Henrik Sedin feed past Coyotes goalie Mike Smith.
The Canucks newest acquisition impressed in the team’s 2-1 SO loss in Glendale.
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Tonight’s game between the Coyotes and the Canucks got off to a typically slow start, but somehow on the way to the Forum, it turned into a wide-open hockey game and a goaltenders duel. The Canucks got the opening marker on a first period power-play, when Alex Edler directed a pass in the general vicinity of the Coyotes net. The puck deflected off of multiple Coyotes defenders and past Mike Smith.
From there the Canucks continued to generate shots, but had few scoring chances and looked lost in the first fifteen minutes of the second frame. I think it’s fair to describe the team’s breakout in the second and third periods as conservative, and so was their cycle game. The team fell into the "get traffic and set up points shots" offense as the Coyotes out-chanced Vancouver’s club mostly against the flow of possession.
The Coyotes caught a break with 10 minutes to go in the game, when "the Wizard" Ray Whitney capitalized on an ugly rebound that Cory Schneider coughed up off of a 120 foot Keith Yandle shot. The goal shook the Canucks out of their mid-game slumber, and they dominated what remained of the game but couldn’t beat Mike Smith. Smith shut the door over the balance of the third, throughout OT and then stoned both Canucks shooters in the skills competition to earn the NHL’s hottest team yet another two points.
A more detailed recap, scoring chance data, and the statistical three stars and goats after the jump!
– We’ll start with the basic numbers. The Canucks were out-chanced by the Coyotes tonight, by a total tally of 27 to 25. At even-strength the teams were even with 23 scoring chances a piece. The Canucks were totally dominant in a "tied-score game state" and had 16 scoring chances to the Coyotes 7 when the game was knotted.
– Cory Schneider had an excellent game, and kept the Canucks in the contest – especially in the second period when the Coyotes were absolutely handing a listless Vancouver side their collective asses. Schneider’s heroic aside, it’s fair to say that he struggled with his rebound control all evening – and not just on the play that led to Ray Whitney’s game-tying marker. His rebound control issues even show up in tonight’s chance data as the Coyotes recorded 7 scoring chances on "second chance" opportunities. Some of that is on the Canucks defenders too – but I still think it’s fair to say that Schneider was uncharacteristically fighting the puck tonight.
– The Canucks backup also had issues handling the puck. While he was only tagged with only one giveaway by the official scorer, he deserved at least two (Shane Doan failed to handle the puck on Schneider’s "uncredited giveaway" early in the third, so the official scorer didn’t count it). Rebound control and puck-handling are details: overall Schneider was excellent. It was just one of those games where Schneider, despite turning in his usual brilliant performance, was just a little rough around the edges.
– Mike Smith, on the other hand, never has any issues handling the puck. We even credited him with a "chance created" for his Wes Unseld outlet pass to Martin Hanzal about three and a half minutes into the third period. If Hanzal had capitalized on his wrist-shot (he struck the post) Mike Smith would have earned the heck out of that primary assist.
– Zack Kassian and Sami Pahlsson both made impressive Canucks debuts tonight. Let’s start with Pahlsson who played an effective, low-event game despite starting 8 shifts in the defensive zone, none in the offensive zone and matching up primarily against Shane Doan’s line. Despite hard minutes, Pahlsson came out ahead in that matchup from a possession stand-point. Based on the relative quality of their opposition: it looks to me like Pahlsson’s is the first checking line (they spent most of their time against Doan/Whitney), while Malhotra and Lapierre’s line is the second checking line (their primary matchup was Daymond Lankow). The early returns on Pahlsson are that he comes as advertised.
– The guy Canucks fans were more excited about seeing today, however, was Zack Kassian – and he didn’t disappoint. His even-strength performance was tantalizing, but ultimately a wash. By the chance data he had a positive differential (+1) and by the possession data he had a slight negative differential (-1). That aside, he won some puck battles, he beaked Biznasty, and demonstrated the speed and on-ice intelligence that made him a top-prospect. Kassian set up a scoring chance, he cycled the puck nicely with Mason Raymond on a sequence that drew a Coyotes penalty, and he did well to read the play while forechecking. The best indication of how well Kassian performed tonight: he started out on the fourth line, and quickly worked his way up to Kesler’s wing for the rest of the game.
– Chris Tanev took his first NHL penalty tonight, and for the first time since October had a pretty rough game. He struggled killing penalties, and when partnered with Aaron Rome, their pairing was something of an adventure. Then again, everyone who is paired with Rome has been something of an adventure lately, and Tanev was steady when he spent time with Hamhuis in the middle portion of tonight’s game.
– Yes Mason Raymond falls down a lot. Yes, it’s absolutely a mistake to have him shooting second in the shootout. Yes, his shootout move was especially weak tonight (I hate the spin-o-rama anyways). That said, he had a really strong game!
He played on several lines, created a scoring chance, was a +6 in EV scoring chances in the game, looked good centering the 2nd power-play unit and was generally good defensively. He had a miscue on a back-check in the second period where he nearly created a Coyotes chance with one of his patented, slap-stick pratfalls – but otherwise he was effective in both ends. I especially liked a sequence of his near the end of the first when he broke through the slot and directed two dangerous shots (both recorded as scoring chances) on Mike Smith.
– I rag on John Garrett a fair bit, so it’s only fair that I give him credit when he adds to my enjoyment of the broadcast. On one Cory Schneider save where the well spoken young man from Marblehead went cross crease to make two difficult stops in quick succession – Garrett marveled at how "high" Schneider is able to "keep his shoulders," while completing an athletic, lateral movement. Having never played goaltender, my understanding of butterfly technique is pretty shallow. So to hear a former NHLer talk about how impressed he is with a particular technical attribute he sees in a younger keeper’s game is both interesting and instructive to me. Let’s have more of that!
The Statistical Three Stars
- Mike Smith – quality start, .975 save percentage, 21/21 on scoring chances directed on net.
- Dan Hamhuis – +2 EV chance differential, 2 chances created, no chances against in 3:37 SH TOI.
- Cory Schneider – quality start, .971 save percentage, 19/20 on scoring chances directed on net.
The Statistical Three Goats
- Aaron Rome: -4 EV chance differential, 2 chance against in 36 seconds of SH TOI.
- Maxim Lapierre: -7 EV chance differential, -3 fenwick.
- Chris Tanev: Noooooo! -2 EV chance differential, 2 chances against in 84 seconds of SH TOI, 2 PIM.
Scoring Chance Data
A chance is counted any time a team directs a shot cleanly on-net from within home-plate. Shots on goal and misses are counted, but blocked shots are not (unless the player who blocks the shot is “acting like a goaltender”). Generally speaking, we are more generous with the boundaries of home-plate if there is dangerous puck movement immediately preceding the scoring chance, or if the scoring chance is screened. If you want to get a visual handle on home-plate, check this image. A big thank you to Vic Ferrari is in order in all of those, because his timeonice.com scripts enable the entire operation.Yes there is an app for this.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20836
Chance Totals (Canucks on the left, Coyotes on the right).
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